Ludmilla Tourischeva

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Ludmilla Tourischeva : biography

October 7, 1952 –

At the 1975 European Championships, Tourischeva lost the all-around competition, placing third to 13-year old Nadia Comăneci, who also won the vault, bars, and beam apparatus finals. Tourischeva’s teammate, Nellie Kim, placed second and won the floor exercise competition. Nevertheless, Tourischeva rebounded later that year to sweep the World Cup.

After struggling with a back injury, Tourischeva competed in her third Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, winning her third team gold with the Soviet squad. In the all-around she finished third behind Romania’s Comăneci and her teammate Kim. Although Tourischeva lost to Kim on both vault and floor exercise in the event finals, she overcame Comăneci on them and won silver medals, bringing her total Olympic medal count to four gold, three silver and two bronze.

In 1980, British journalist David Hunn wrote of Tourischeva, "(she) never had the cheek of some of her rivals, but for serenity she was supreme." This was famously illustrated during the 1975 World Cup at Wembley Stadium in London, when a broken hook holding support cables of the uneven bars caused the apparatus to fall apart and crash to the ground just as Tourischeva landed her dismount. Saluting the judges, she calmly walked off the podium without even turning around to look at the remains of the apparatus. She went on to win the all-around and every single event final gold. Years later, she said of the incident that at that moment she remembered only one thing – she must complete her routine and "stick it". Her trainer Vladislav Rastorotsky said about her: "Ljudmila would fight to death in any situation".

Tourischeva was also known for her gracious demeanor. At the 1976 Olympics, she walked around the podium to personally congratulate champion Nadia Comăneci and shake her hand before accepting her own medal.

In 1977, she married the sprinter Valeriy Borzov, a two-time Olympic champion in 1972. She was elected to the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in 1981. Tourischeva has remained involved in gymnastics as a coach, an international judge and an official with the Ukrainian gymnastics federation. One of her protégés was Lilia Podkopayeva, the 1996 Olympic all-around gold medalist.

Tourischeva has received many honors for her contributions to gymnastics, including the Women In Sport trophy by the International Olympic Committee. In 1998 she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Ludmilla Tourischeva is 1 of only 2 women (Yelena Shushunova being the other) who have won the grand slam of all-around titles: Olympics, World Championships, World Cup, and European Championships.